Category Archives: Props

The Right Type

I’ve been after a bloody typewriter for ages. Not exactly sure why, I’ve never needed to use one. They seem to be staple accessories in Foley stages and I figured it’s best to have one than get caught short. They are also rather delightful.

Here is the latest acquisition.

It’s a bit broken, that’s okay

It’s pretty, not as much as the attractive metal-framed beasts found hipster’s living rooms but at £5 and housed in a sweet leather case, it’s a steal and a welcome addition to the family. I also managed to find two pairs of mens shoes that fitted a treat and ticked two essential boxes.

The first pair have a slight heel (and at a size six, the ability to slightly crush my size seven feet) which offer a minor clop reminiscent of a subtle ladies heel or a prominent man’s shoe. The second pair are much flatter but with smooth leather soles offer a distinguished and commanding footstep, similar to the brown brogues featured at the top of this blog, without the distracting and unusable weight that those same beautiful shoes find themselves hampered with.

I’m sharing this boring update because it’s something that I’ve had to come to terms with in regards to my shoe collection. Many of the various shoes that I’ve collected are absolutely ideal when walked in a guerrilla fashion (the alleyway behind the block of flats, the stairwell in an office building), however in the controlled environment of a Foley stage, they sound ridiculously over the top. When we were recording Fast Girls, the majority of my shoes remained in my holdall, two pairs of subtle flats were called upon above all others.

This is a bit of a nuisance as I’m having to purchase shoes that I already assumed to be covered, replacing exaggerated ladies heels for shoes that have a heel without the capacity to distract and take prominence over everything else in the mix. Thankfully I found some amazing thrift stores in the midland’s Leamington Spa, this is always the case with more affluent places, the shoes tend to be of a higher quality and therefore offer a more appropriate sound. I’m hoping my guerrilla shoes and these new acquisitions will complete the collection and offer more options when in the pits. In the meantime, I’ve got to find somewhere to put the unnecessary, yet treasured typewriter.

Wasting Business Cards

Last year I was creating some sound effects for Tootles, an kids cartoon by my good friend Alex Amelines. As a sweet gesture, Alex created a lovely business card design so I could refrain from thrusting my iPhone in the direction of people I’d meet, bleating excuses of a terrible default Vistaprint purchase and pleading for their Twitter username instead.

I finally took 15 minutes out of an admin day to get the designs printed with Moo and joined the professional pool of freelance creatives who can manage the simplest tasks of passing on contact details and understanding the concept of branding.

The week that they arrived fresh, crisp and stacked ready for distribution, I was offered a full time job by Creativity Media. I now have 150 fresh, crisp and wonderfully designed business cards that I’m probably never going to use.

It was in my favourite colour and everything!

So the silver lining I guess is that I will now be working full time for Creativity Media as a Foley editor, receiving training in effects editing, dialogue editing and all sorts of sound post activities. This is no means a sign off from the Foley Diaries though, if I don’t pour my babbles about props n’ cloths on here, I’ll inflict it upon friends and family which will result in eye rolls and social shuns.

So on that note, look at some sexy new props acquired in China. The bells, they are delightful.

The scary tweezer looking thing is an old, weird razor, or so the vendor claimed

Ropes, ratchets and more ropes? That’ll be nautical Foley then.

Everything has been used except the dog ball/rope toy

In all seriousness, I’m absolutely delighted to be doing this full time and getting to push myself both in terms of improving my Foley editing and in learning new sound post skills, becoming more useful to the company and generally discovering how it feels to REALLY appreciate the weekends. Wish me luck, yo.

Creativity Media are on both Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be updating the accounts here and there so do say hello.

Seasonal Sounds for the Festive Foley Folk

Arrived back in London from a family visit over the Christmas period which was both relaxing and indulgent. This brief stay at my sister’s home confirmed my dislike of dog hairs in dinner, if it ever needed to be confirmed in the first place. The dog was lovely, the hairs were not.

Just to clarify, the dog is the family pet, not dinner itself. I’m vegetarian you see.

Despite my lack of seasonal cheer, I was more than chipper to be involved in online Christmas greetings by both Beautiful and Hub TV. These two projects were a delight to work on, bells, chimes, glass clinkles (that’s a word, roll with it) and yuletide’s traditional DIY parts.

Yuletide DIY parts

The first piece was Beautiful’s digital Christmas card, a lovely animation consisting of baubles bouncing, crashing and stumbling over one another with a wavy swell culminating in a weighty cone passing the camera at speed, baubles in tow.

This was a delightful project to work on, I was back home in the hometown recording Foley guerilla-style for Tash Force so took the opportunity to raid my mother’s home for unusual items to strike and wobble. This was complimented by a visit to the local thrift store where I managed to bring in the slushy contents of the street off my shoes and take away their collection of porcelain bells and a wonderful candle holder with an infinitely sustained resonance which is probably still decaying at this very moment, so very perfect. It’s the copper/golden chalice looking item in the following picture, near the top, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in Raiders of the Lost Ark.* Consequently, I didn’t drink from it.

The golf balls were unnecessary

* Edit – I meant The Last Crusade… they’re all good, you know what I meant.

The use of porcelain, glass, copper, steel and tin managed to combine itself together and ensure all elements were covered… however there was a significant absence of scatter and spread. I managed to bother the lovely gentlemen in Clerkenwell’s premium Foley/DIY supply store for a variety of nuts, washers and miscellaneous clinkley items that only dads know the true purpose of. Naturally I had a wonderful time throwing these bits and pieces around on the bathroom tiles for scatter, ring and voluminous presence. My flatmate also got involved by donating a German thumb ring, fun for all the family.

Hub TV’s video required reinforcement of the personality and narrative of its two characters. I bundled the video’s director Carl Thompson into the booth for chuckles, wheee’s and grumbles… all within embarrassing earshot of his colleagues. As a result, a third and final recording session provided the necessary characterisations of the lonely and somewhat amorous Father Christmas bauble.

Throw in a good mixture of low, mid, high frequency whooshes, an obligatory jet engine, bells, bauble smashes, squeaks, creaks, foliage and tree shakes smothered with with an unhealthy dollop of reverb and delay and bingo! The story was complimented with a soundtrack of chortling determination and shattering tragedy.

It’s probably, if not totally unnecessary to go into so much detail over a couple of videos, however I’m on a long train back to London and there’s nothing else to do other than avoid eye contact/tedious conversation with other passengers. Hope you’ve all had a lovely festive break and here’s to a prosperous and happy new year to you all.

* Sentimental moment*

I’ve been ridiculously fortunate over the past twelve months in terms of experiences, mentoring and supportive friendships. If it’s not too self-indulgent, I’d love to thank Alex Joseph, Nigel and Keith at Hackenbacker, Paul, Simon, Phill, Ian and Neil at Universal Sound, Ed and Glen at Shepperton, Hugo and Glenn at Sound 24, Sandy, Robin and Alison at Pinewood, Adam at Anvil, Simon, Jason and Hannah at Molinaire, Andrea King, Jack Stew, Pete Burgis, Andi Derrick, Barney Smith, Alex at One Huge Eye, Neil and Louisa at Silent Deer, Tom and Nic at Beautiful, Dean Covill and all the team at Hub TV. I’m indebted to Chris Jones at New Life Purpose for getting me on that plane to China as well as Patch, Rachel, Beth, Renee and Syriah for the essential and gratefully received love and support. Here’s a little shout out too to all the delightfully creative and conversational folk I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on Twitter. You make bus journeys feel less lonesome and at least 13% more interesting. Thank you.

A Cracking Gramophone

Christmas is my least favourite time of the year. Despite of or perhaps because of all the merriment, family, novelty music and frantic commercialism, I have to grin and bear it, eager for time to pass and January to arrive. One exception to my bah humbug is the practice of locating, smashing and nibbling on walnuts. My mother still owns a lovely ye olde nutcracker which I always associate with this distraction to yuletide gatherings. The nutcracker is essentially the same as this one…

The reason for this tedious talk about nutcrackers and Christmas is that I was recently providing extra Foley on a lovely WW1 short film with Dean Covill for Andrew Ellinas. All required sync was as expected, clothing, footsteps, loud sobbing, however one of the requests involved replicating the sound of changing a record on a gramophone.

Unfortunately I don’t have one lying around (although once I’d got back from recording, one of my colleagues at Hub TV proudly announced she has one sitting around in her studio) so I made do with a lovely oak dinner tray, a wooden-handled gardening trowel, corkscrew, 12″ vinyl and the nutcracker which was acquired on the sly.

The oak tray suggested a heavy base and I was able to pivot the trowel in one of its corners for resistance and scrape. This provided the illusion of the gramophone’s arm being swung off the record and into its resting place on the side. A piece of cloth on the tray provided enough ‘felt’ texture for the platter as the record was swiped off and replaced. The spiral of the corkscrew catching on the record’s centre hole (is there an actual name for this?) gave resistance as the record is taken off and slid onto the platter’s spindle. What remained was the sound of the actor changing the RPM of the gramophone by pushing a small sliding mechanism into place. Thank you mother for the nutcracker! It has a lovely sliding sound with incremental resistance and as you might be able to tell, I enjoyed the whole process.

So there. The thrills of challenging the brain into creative solutions. Normal people enjoy religious/seasonal holidays, I prefer mucking around with gardening trowels and nutcrackers. I was going to post an audio file of the completed audio, however upon playback without final picture, it’s a bit underwhelming.

Polystyrene Spheres and Roll Ons

I’ve recently been working on an animated children’s TV pilot with Alex Amelines. Both these props have been invaluable in performing roller pen Foley. Learning experience; using deodorant to perform extensive rolling, movement will result in extensive gloop on my surfaces. Polystyrene also gets really hot when dragged around on linoleum for a sustained period of time, wonder if an unimpressive smoulder could occur with enough efforts…

Do realise it's a bit meat n' veg

The Foley is already complete, tracklay will be arranged in Logic 8. It’ll feel a bit odd going back top that programme after working in Pro Tools so much, however it’s all about using the Delay Designer tap delay plug-in. Could play with it for hours, definitely have done so in the past.

Similar to Tash Force, I’ll be updating progress of the Tootles Foley and FX on here, will upload sound files that may be of interest although Foley really doesn’t work well for cuting. Anyone need the sound of a plastic kite being hammered? It’s unlikely.

Preparations

Have been running around like a mad woman, getting organised for the Foley performance and editing I’m undertaking for Tash Force. Preparations include beefing up Pro Tools, the Mac and investing in some new shoes, mens shoes.

So far I have stumbled upon these

I also came across these, not quite in the category of mens shoes but damn they have a lovely clop to them.

Looking forward to this project, it’ll be my first with supervising sound editor Dean Covill. We share a real passion for the film so it’ll be an enjoyable few weeks up ahead. Might not be feeling that way at 3am editing cloth tracks but in the meantime, yes… good feelings. Especially when I get to walk in this man’s shoes throughout the next month.

Time to clean my boots, there will be updates.

This is a Post About a Wooden Case

This week has been one of many purchases. Initiated last Sunday by a chance encounter with a bric a brac store which I swear I’ve never seen before. Pretty sure it won’t be there again when I go back tomorrow, a bit like the fairground machine granting adulthood wishes in Big.

Zoltar Big

What caught my eye from across the street was the ensemble of suitcases, furniture and crockery housed inside. The inevitable parting of money came down to this little wooden case. Absolutely smashing. The latches hold different resistance to one another, leaving one to fly open with minimal force whereas the other isn’t so forthcoming. The handle also has a deliciously ropey, leathery squeak with metal-on-wood rattle.

Wooden Case

Regardless of how lovely and old it sounds, she’s also a pretty thing with heritage. There is still an address label belonging to its original owner, a  Mr W. Buchanan from Shepperton, England. That kind of sealed the deal. Looking forward to using this as soon as I can.

Here’s the place where I stumbled upon my find…

Past Caring

It’s located on Essex Road, Angel Islington if you’re curious. Hands off the beautiful, cream rotary dial telephone please, that one will be mine.